Are you someone suffering from shortness of breath? Known by the medical term dyspnoea, shortness of breath is a nagging problem as you may go through a feeling of not getting enough air or a tightness in your chest. It becomes worse when you are physically active or while you lie down fat. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), shortness of breath increases with age and between 10–25% of middle-aged and older individuals face this problem.
Causes Of Shortness Of Breath
There may be different causes due to which you suffer from shortness of breath. Some of the common causes include asthma, chest infection, smoking, due to overweight, and a panic attack.
However, in some cases, shortness of breath may be the sign of a more serious health issue such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung condition, heart failure, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis i.e. scarring of the lungs, and lung cancer.
As you know, all of us feel breathless at times. It generally happens while being engaged in strenuous physical activities such as exercising, running, or climbing up multiple flights of stairs. This is an indication that your body is experiencing excessive exertion as you are not used to that activity.
However, please note that breathlessness may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. You need to be careful when breathlessness happens suddenly.
In some cases, it may also develop gradually. In the initial stages, heavy physical exertion may cause breathing discomfort. However, gradually the condition becomes worse and you may experience breathlessness frequently. It may happen even while doing routine activities like wearing clothes, showering, climbing a few steps, and even just sitting.
When To Consult A Doctor?
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing severe shortness of breath or if the condition interferes with your daily activities. In some cases, shortness of breath is a sign of a medical emergency that needs treatment at the earliest.
When you approach the doctor, he/she may ask you to do a chest X-ray or an electrocardiogram (ECG) to find out what is causing the shortness of breath. While performing this test, your doctor will make you lie down so that your heart can be monitored. Once the ECG is done, you will get a picture called tracing that displays your heart’s electrical signals. In addition to the above tests, your doctor may also check your breathing and the oxygen level in the blood. You may also need to get a blood test done.
If you are experiencing severe breathing difficulty, hospitalization may be required. As part of the treatment, several medications may be used to treat the causes of your breathing difficulty.
If your blood oxygen level is significantly low, supplemental oxygen would be effective. However, it is to be noted that high doses of supplemental oxygen may be dangerous in some people. Thus, it is not necessary to give supplemental oxygen in all cases of shortness of breath.
Top Tips To Manage Shortness Of Breath
To get relief from breathlessness, try the below techniques that you can do just by remaining at the comfort of your home.
- Choose a comfortable position such as sitting on a chair while leaning forward. Or else lie on your side and ensure that you support your head with cushions.
- Practice a breathing technique such as taking slow relaxed breaths that come from your tummy.
- Keep the windows open so that you get fresh air.
- Cool your face using a wet flannel.
- Relax yourself by listening to soothing music, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in gentle exercise.
- Stay in touch with your friends and family.
- Eat in small quantities and often rather than taking one big meal.
- Plan your day in such a way that there are sufficient breaks for rest.
Shortness of breath can turn out to be quite troublesome and it can spoil your day. Hope the article covered the lesser-known facts about shortness of breath, its causes, symptoms, and treatment. Never hesitate to consult a doctor in case the symptoms get serious. Last but not least, try the home remedies discussed above so that you will get relief to a great extent.